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Traveler's Guide to Russia


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06:27 AM 09.28 Wednesday Moscow, Russia

Top 10 things you need to know

Money

The Russian Ruble is the official currency. It is best to have enough cash to use for a few days at a time because ATM and credit card processing services are unreliable. It is fairly easy to find currency exchange services in Russia, and it is best to do so at a bank or foreign exchange shop. It is illegal for vendors to accept any currency other than the Ruble.

Public Transportation & In country Travel

Being the largest country in the world, the roads are not typically safe for travel; However, almost every city and town is connected by train. Train travel is the easiest and most common way to get around. There are many airports as well, but service can be less reliable. safety issues are also a concern with air travel within the country.

Language

The national language is Russian, a Slavic language very similar to Ukrainian. Though everyone speaks Russian, there are hundreds of the other regional languages that residents will speak as well. Outside the business world and the largest cities, use of the English language is almost non-existent.

Best time to travel

Russia is very cold most of the year. Further south, the summer can bring very warm days. New Year's and Orthodox Christmas typically combine into a week off for most Russians; many shops and restaurants close during this time.

Hospitality

Good hotels can be very expensive and hard to find, as most were built in the Soviet era. Many find it easier to rent a room, or an entire residence. A ten percent tip is customary in Russia.

Safety

Assault and robbery are the most common crimes; however, the crime rate in Russia has fallen in recent years. Travel to Crimea and the surrounding area is currently discouraged due violent civil unrest. Traffic and driving habits are very dangerous, as many drivers are not properly trained. Also, racism and resulting violence is a significant problem in Russia.

Food and Drink

Russian cuisine is based on peasant meals from rural communities, such as soups and stews that usually include fish or poultry and hearty root vegetables. Wheat based products such as breads, dumplings, and cereals are also staples. Vodka is by far the most popular alcoholic beverage, and it is best to drink only bottled water and soft drinks.

Diversity

Eighty percent of the country is ethnic Russian. The remaining twenty percent is made up of over 150 other ethnic groups. The majority of Russians are Orthodox.

Accessibility

Passports are required to purchase mobile SIM cards, and there is almost no international service available. Broadband internet and WiFi can be found easily in most areas, especially larger cities.

Cultural customs

Avoid discussing World War II, the Soviet Era or any political issues or views. If entering an Orthodox church, men should remove their head covering, and women should cover their head with a scarf. It is typical of most Russians to speak very quietly in public, and you usually will only smile at someone if they are a friend.

Things not to do

  1. Only buy vodka from large stores; "fake vodka" can contain methanol and be dangerous.
  2. Do not wear your outdoor shoes into someone’s home.
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